Tan Tan is a long popular restaurant serving Vietnamese and similar Chinese fare prepared quickly and very proficiently and served efficiently to hungry throngs at most hours during the day. Tan Tan has grown in size over the years, and beyond its former, odd “Fast Food” designation, but it remains as good as ever. Tan Tan is one of a number of value-oriented places in New Chinatown that serve a great many unassimilated dishes expertly cooked with fresh ingredients. Tan Tan just serves more of them. Many more, as the menu is huge. Really huge. It’s almost overwhelming with over 350 different items. Among those are a number of dishes around eight bucks, and the portions are good-sized, so it is easy to get a flavorful, freshly cooked, and filling meal for very fair price.
The extensive menu printed in Chinese, Vietnamese and English has descriptively named sections such as: Appetizers, Vietnamese Dishes; Soup (Canh), Noodle Soup (Mi), Rice Soup (Congee), Fried Rice, Steamed Rice Platter, Tofu & Vegetables, Beef, Pork, Poultry, Pan Fried Noodles, Stir Fried Flat Rice Noodles, Stir Fried Macaroni & Vermicelli, Seafood, Sizzling Plates. The forty noodle soup dishes are each available with a choice among egg noodles (mi), wide egg noodles, flat rice noodles, thin rice noodles and vermicelli. Each of these sections typically lists fifteen or more dishes.
With such a large menu you can play it safe with something fairly familiar, or you can be adventurous. For the unadventurous, it’s tough to go wrong with one of the fried rice dishes. The French Style Beef Fried Rice with pieces of moist beef and the barbecued Pork and Chinese Sausage Fried Rice are two reliable choices. Listed in the Beef, Pork, Chicken and Seafood sections are several familiar Americanized dishes. For example, there are Mongolian Beef, Sweet and Sour Pork, Szechuan Chicken, Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken and Kung Pao Shrimp. The Lemon Chicken and Garlic Spicy Chicken are quite good. The hot pots with the table-top cookers require at least two people to order, and these are popular here. To be noted, these can be a lot of work for first-timers.
Service can be somewhat chaotic, but dishes are typically served soon after they are ordered. It is easy to get in and out of the restaurant quickly during the lunchtime, even though the restaurant is usually fairly crowded. With its late hours, Tan Tan the is very popular on weekend nights with young club-goers who pack nearby clubs. Late at night on the weekends, it can be tough even to find a seat in this large restaurant, a testament to its quality and value.
6816 Ranchester (at Bellaire)
Houston, Texas 77036
Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.
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